Posted on February 17, 2016

5 Things to Look For in a Commercial Cell Phone Booster

Jamie Elgie

Chief Marketing Officer

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

You’ve finally made the decision to pull yourself out of the cell phone signal black hole that you and your employees have long dreaded when coming to work.  Now what?

A cell phone signal booster system can make a significant difference in the quality of voice calls and data reception on smartphones and tablets, virtually anywhere in your office, and throughout the entire worksite.

If you’ve done your research, you’ve seen that there are an increasing number of cell phone signal booster systems on the market. Most are simply geared towards individual consumer home use, and a select few are designed to provide commercial-grade signal boosting to an entire office’s worth of employees and visitors.

That being said, there are a few technical and operational details to look for when evaluating various signal boosters, such as providing better signal quality and more worry-free operation, as well as ensuring that all users get equal access to the carrier of their choice.

1. High uplink and downlink power

A better-than-average ability to pull signals from nearby carrier towers, and effectively boost those signals to provide the most bars of reception for users at your workplace, is at the core of a good commercial cell phone booster system.

Equipment with high downlink power has the advantage of providing more signal in workspaces where the incoming signal is strong. That system will then provide stronger, amplified signals to users, with greater coverage as a result. It’s also equally critical to have a system with high uplink power, taking the voice and data signals from your in-office users’ phones and boosting them before transmitting them back to the carriers’ towers.

Strong uplink power is crucial in providing enhanced user capacity and being able to send clear, strong signals to even the most distant cell site on a carrier’s tower.  

How Commercial Signal Boosters Work

2. Low overload and shutdown threshold

A major variable in the operating efficiency of commercial cell phone signal booster systems is the strength of signals from various nearby towers – signals that can vary widely in power, depending on environmental factors or power fluctuations. Too strong a signal can actually cause a booster system to shut off.

A well-engineered system can deal with occasional bursts of extra-strength signal by providing a lower overload and shutdown threshold. Look for a system that’s capable of handling a major fluctuation in incoming power – as much as +10dB in strength – before overloading and reducing power or shutting down.

In urban environments or cases where a particular carrier’s tower is quite close to your workplace, overpowering signals are a common occurrence. The outer building materials or landscape may make a cell phone signal dismal, despite the building’s proximity to a tower. A system that can cope with signal fluctuations that are inherent to a local cellular environment will provide more consistent overall service.

3. Sophisticated software with intelligent shutdown management

As a rule, the FCC requires commercial cell signal booster systems to shut down if the incoming signal is too strong on a particular band. For many commercial boosters, if the system is overloaded and shuts down completely, the only way to turn it back on is to power cycle the booster, which often requires a professional installer to come to your worksite and readjust the equipment.

When evaluating boosters, look for a system that will automatically turn back on when the signal decreases to an acceptable level. Make sure the cell phone booster has sophisticated software that constantly monitors incoming signals and makes immediate adjustments, allowing the booster to constantly operate at maximum gain.

4. Carrier-agnostic coverage and reception

Your employees and your customers have a lot of choices when it comes to cell phone carriers, including major national companies with extensive cell tower infrastructure, as well as smaller, regional carriers with more selective cell networks.

The one constant is the desire to get a strong, steady signal for everyone’s devices, no matter the carrier. A true positive for a commercial cell phone signal booster is the ability to equally amplify all incoming signals, providing equally enhanced service no matter which carrier.

5. Freestanding, non-Wi-Fi-dependent technology

It’s best that a commercial cell phone booster works as an independent tool in your office or workplace to enhance incoming signals and re-amplify your employees’ or customers’ outgoing signals – and does not ride piggyback on your pre-existing Wi-Fi network to do so.

Many booster systems, especially residential-grade equipment or boosters directly affiliated with a particular carrier, rely on existing Wi-Fi networks to stabilize and boost their localized signal power.

Unfortunately, the result is only as good as your Wi-Fi, and only works when your Wi-Fi system is running at full strength. We’ve all experienced the fluctuations in strength or complete shutdowns of office Wi-Fi, and the negative consequences on morale and productivity.

Integrating a cell phone signal booster into a company’s Wi-Fi system has the potential of diminishing critical bandwidth and cutting into the overall signal strength. Find a cell phone booster system that works independent of Wi-Fi and one that can actually serve as a critical lifeline for transmitting email, documents and data, if your in-office Wi-Fi system goes down.

If you’d like to find out more about WilsonPro’s solutions to enhance the cell phone signals at your worksite, browse our cell signal booster options. Or, download our Buyer's Guide to learn which solution is best for your wireless signal needs.